The Danube Delta is one of the largest and best-preserved deltas in all of Europe, with 23 ecosystems that are home to a huge number of plants and wildlife. Located in Tulcea County in the Dobrogea region, the delta is a winding network of waterways that originate from the Black Sea. In total, the delta is 5,165 square kilometers, and it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Search for some of the 300 species of birds that visit the delta or fish in the lakes and marshes to find some of the 45 species of fresh-water fish. Visit during the springtime to avoid the mosquitoes, and don’t miss a fabulous sunset over the river.
The Sphinx and Babele
Located in the Bucegi Mountains, the Sphinx and Babele are two regularly visited natural rock formations. Created by wind and rain, the formations are located about a 10-minute walk from one another at an altitude of more than 2,000 meters. The Sphinx was discovered around 1900. However, it acquired its name, which refers to the Great Sphinx of Giza, in 1936 when it was first recognized as a lookalike from a certain angle. Babele, which translates to ‘the old woman’, is the name for the mushroom-shaped formations. The Sphinx and Babele can be reached by cable car from Busteni, by car, or by foot.
Located in the northeast area of Romania, Bucovina’s painted monasteries are truly one-of-a-kind sights. The exterior walls of a handful of monasteries were painted in colorful frescoes in the 15th and 16th centuries. The scenes feature masterpieces of saints, prophets, Jesus, angels, demons, heaven, hell, and more. Originally, they were painted to make the stories of the Bible available to all of the surrounding villagers. The churches are now listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
This exceptional example of Neo-Renaissance architecture is one of the top attractions in the country. Decorated with ornate stonework, sculpted wood, and stained-glass windows, the castle is at once charming and intimidating from its spot against the panoramic views of the Carpathian Mountains. King Carol I constructed this castle at the end of the 19th century as a summer home. Today, the fabulous structure serves as a museum, showing off a collection of artwork, armor, and weaponry. Explore the 160 rooms and the terrace gardens on a guided tour through the castle.
Cluj-Napoca is a young and modern city located in Transylvania. The second-largest city in Romania is also home to the country’s largest student population, and it is the unofficial capital of Transylvania’s historical region. It is home to Romanian arts and cultural centers and houses The National Museum of Art. This museum holds a large collection of Romanian artwork. The city, which dates back to the country’s 2nd century AD Dacian settlement, is filled with historic sights. There is a large range of sights, from the Baroque architecture to the 14th-century Gothic St Michael’s Church, which contains the country’s tallest church tower.
Palace of Culture
Visit the city of Iasi to find the beautiful Neo-Gothic building that houses Romania’s Palace of Culture. With 298 rooms throughout its 390,000 square feet, the building houses four museums. These museums are the Science and Technology Museum, the Ethnography Museum of Moldavia, the Art Museum, and the Moldavia’s History Museum. The Palace of Culture was built between 1906 and 1925 to replace the ruins of the old Royal Court of Moldavia, which dated back to 1434. Before the museums moved in, the building served as the Administrative and Justice Palace. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Monuments.
The strong but elegant Bran Castle, which dates back to 1377, is one of Romania’s top destinations. This is mainly because of its associations with a certain vampire – the medieval hilltop castle has been marketed as Bram Stoker’s inspiration for Dracula’s castle. Unfortunately, the claim to fame may be misleading because several other castles in the country have linked themselves to Stoker’s famous vampire. The castle sits on the border of Transylvania and Wallachia and is open as a museum showing art and furniture collected by Queen Marie, who called the castle home in 1920.
Take a scenic drive on the Transalpina, or the DN67C, a curvy alpine road that cuts through the Parâng Mountains in Romania’s Southern Carpathians. It is one of the highest roads in the country, and locals have called it the King’s Road or Devil’s Pathway. Urdele Pass is the highest point on the road, with an elevation of 2,145 meters above sea level. The road travels between Novaci and Sebes, running through four counties. Stunning mountain views are guaranteed along the Transalpina.
The Red Ravine
The Red Ravine, or Râpa Rosie, is a breathtaking geological reserve in the southwest of the Secaselor Plateau, near the city of Sebes. Erosion runoff has caused the distinct sharp appearance of the mountainside, and the 800-meter-long wall is almost completely vertical, reaching heights between 50 and 125 meters. The area’s red quality comes from the formation of gravel, quartz sands, and sandstones. During the rainy season, deep ravines form and the Râpa Rosie River flows nearby.
Historically, this area was the capital in the time of the Dacian settlement and was the center of its military, religious, and political happenings. Today, the site is a mysterious site of ancient history nestled in the Orastie Mountains and one of Romania’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Located on top of a mountain at an elevation of 1,200 meters, the historic area is filled with centuries-old ruins, like one sanctuary reminiscent of Stonehenge in England. Surrounded by beautiful, natural views, Sarmizegetusa Regia is a great place to spend a quiet, thoughtful afternoon.
Located in Mures County in the historic area of Transylvania, Sighisoara is a well-preserved medieval walled town. During the 12th century, it was founded by German craftsmen and merchants. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is filled with narrow cobbled streets, colorful houses, and soaring towers. The most prominent of which is the 64-meter-high Clock Tower that was built in 1556. The city is also known as the birthplace of Vlad III the Impaler, who served as the inspiration for the fictional character Count Dracula. The best time to visit is during the annual medieval festival in July.
In 2007, Sibiu was named the European Capital of Culture, and it won’t disappoint those looking for a dose of Romanian history and culture. The Brukenthal Art Museum has a fantastic display of Romanian artwork, and the ASTRA Museum of Folk Civilisation is an open-air museum with more than 300 historically designed wooden houses, churches, and workshops. The city also has three theaters, a philharmonic orchestra, and hosts an annual festival of performing arts. Sibiu is filled with parks, galleries, and beautiful churches. The city won the title of ‘Europe’s 8th most idyllic place to live’ by Forbes in 2008.